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Well, if you're looking for the answer to whatever question you have, whether it's as ridiculous as 'how long will it take for Demeter to get over the fact that her daughter loves Hades' to as mundane as 'how do I get my computer to start working again', then you've come to the right place. The name's Apollo. I know lots of things. Things that you mortals might have forgotten about.
~ Apollo.

Apollo was the Greek-Roman god of light, arts, music, healing, prophecy, purification, oracles, plague, poetry, civilization, truth, intelligence, logic, reason, archery and the sun.

Overview

Apollo is the god of the light, music, medicine, healing, truth, prophecy, plague, poetry, education, archery, and the protection of the young. He is sometimes shown with a golden bow and arrow, as he is the god of archery. He was originally associated with only arts, such as music and poetry, but was later transfigured into the god of the Sun, after being trained by the Titan god Helios. He also showed men the art of medicine and healing.

He is the son of Zeus, the king of gods, and Leto, one of the Titans. He is also the twin brother of Artemis. Apollo's skill in music is also known to be unmatched. He is one of the few gods being worshipped in both Greek and Roman religions, making him a son of both Zeus and Jupiter. He is the only Olympian that does not have a Roman name though Apollon could be his roman name.

An embodiment of the Hellenic ideal of kalokagathia, he is harmony, reason and moderation personified, a perfect blend of physical superiority and moral virtue. He served as an intermediary between the gods and men.

Appearance

Apollo was considered to be the most beautiful male god among the Dodekatheon. Apollo is said to have long golden locks of hair, sky blue eyes supported a muscular build, and had a deep but seductive voice.

Seen as the most beautiful god and the ideal of the kouros (ephebe, or a beardless, athletic youth), Apollo is considered to be the most perfect of all the gods to the point where some have even compared him as the Greeks version of Lucifer.

History

Origins

Before he and Artemis' birth, the jealous Hera had made all land shun her so she was unable to find a place to give birth. Leto sought shelter in many lands, only to be rejected by them. Finally, the voice of unborn Apollo informed his mother about a floating island named Delos which had once been Asteria, Leto's own sister. It is also stated that Hera kidnapped Eileithyia, the goddess of childbirth, to prevent Leto from going into labor. The other gods tricked Hera into letting her go by offering her a necklace of amber 9 yards or 8.2 meters long.

But Poseidon took pity on Leto and showed her an island that was not attached to the sea floor so it technically was not considered land. So Leto traveled there and gave birth. The little floating island is called Delos. Artemis was born first and subsequently assisted with the birth of Apollo, or that Artemis was born on the island of Ortygia and that she helped Leto cross the sea to Delos the next day to give birth to Apollo.

When Apollo was born clutching a golden sword, everything on Delos turned into gold, and the island was filled with ambrosial fragrance. Swans circled the island seven times, and the nymphs sang in delight. He was washed clean by the goddesses who then covered him in white garment and fastened golden bands around him. Since Leto was unable to feed the him, Themis, the goddess of divine law, fed him with nectar, or ambrosia. Upon tasting the divine food, Apollo broke free of the bands fastened onto him and declared that he would be the master of lyre and archery, and interpret the will of Zeus to humankind. Zeus, who had calmed Hera by the time, came and adorned his son with a golden headband.

Apollo's birth fixed the floating Delos to the earth. Leto promised that her son would be always favorable towards the Delians. According to some, Apollo secured Delos to the bottom of the ocean after some time. This island became sacred to Apollo and was one of the major cult centres of the god.

Telphousa

After Leto gave birth to Apollo, she fed him Ambrosia and nectar which enabled him to travel around the earth at a young age. When he was searching all over the world for a place to found his shrine, he came across a place called Haliartos in western Boiotia. When he wanted to use this spring, the nymph of the spring Telphousa knew and did not want to share her spot, so she told Apollo to move to Krisa, a place on the southern slopes of Mount Parnassos and she said that it was far more peaceful than her spring. So Apollo went there and chose the spot called Delphi but it was plagued by a gigantic snake called Python. After killing Python, Apollo was furious as Telphousa led him to the lair of a monster so he went back to the spring and covered it with rocks and subordinated her cult to his own by building an altar to Telphousian Apollo in a nearby grove. A long time later, the famous seer called Tiresias came to Telphousa's spring and drank from it but died.

Prophecy

Since Apollo was the god of prophecy he decided that he needed a place where mortals could come and ask questions to him and he would use his gift of prophecy to answer them. He found a perfect place called Pytho. The only bad part was that a terrible, giant snake called Python was living there and was terrorizing all the other living creatures there. So he killed the snake and renamed the place Delphi.

He created his temple and the oracles spoke to the mortals prophecies in which Apollo would give to them to give to mortals.

Hyperborea

Hyperborea, the mystical land of eternal spring, venerated Apollo above all the gods. The Hyperboreans always sang and danced in his honor and hosted Pythian games. There, a vast forest of beautiful trees was called "the garden of Apollo". Apollo spent the winter months among the Hyperboreans. His absence from the world caused coldness and this was marked as his annual death. No prophecies were issued during this time. He returned to the world during the beginning of the spring. The Theophania festival was held in Delphi to celebrate his return.

It is said that Leto came to Delos from Hyperborea accompanied by a pack of wolves. Henceforth, Hyperborea became Apollo's winter home and wolves became sacred to him. His intimate connection to wolves is evident from his epithet Lyceus, meaning wolf-like. But Apollo was also the wolf-slayer in his role as the god who protected flocks from predators. The Hyperborean worship of Apollo bears the strongest marks of Apollo being worshipped as the sun god. Shamanistic elements in Apollo's cult are often liked to his Hyperborean origin, and he is likewise speculated to have originated as a solar shaman. Shamans like Abaris and Aristeas were also the followers of Apollo, who hailed from Hyperborea.

In myths, the tears of amber Apollo shed when his son Asclepius died became the waters of the river Eridanos, which surrounded Hyperborea. Apollo also buried in Hyperborea the arrow which he had used to kill the Cyclopes. He later gave this arrow to Abaris

The Iliad

If mercy fail, yet let my presents move, And dread avenging Phoebus, son of Jove.
~ Khryses begging to Apollo

Apollo is one of the first gods mentioned in the Iliad. In the Iliad, Apollo is the healer under the gods, but he is also the bringer of disease and death with his arrows, similar to the function of the Vedic god of disease Rudra. He sends a plague to the Achaeans. The god who sends a disease can also prevent it; therefore, when it stops, they make a purifying ceremony and offer him a hecatomb to ward off evil.

Khryses was a priest of Apollo. He deeply respected Apollo. But one day the Greek hero and king of Mycenae or Argos, Agamemnon, insulted the old man and refused to return his daughter, Chryseis, who was more beautiful than Agamemnon's wife, Clytemnestra according to the King. So Chryses prayed to Apollo to get revenge on the man for the insult. Apollo, grateful for the man's service as a priest, went to the Greek camp for nine days and shot poisoned arrows at the men and all their animals, spreading a plague on the Greeks in the Trojan War.

When Achilles refuses to fight, his cousin and suspected lover Patroclus, will take up his armor and weapons to fight as Achilles. Apollo, disguised as a mortal, hits Patrocles in the back, just where the armor doesn't cover and shocks him still. According to myths, the god takes off Patrocles' armor, in the middle of the battlefield, as Patrocles stares at the god, recognizing him. Hector comes from behind and kills him.

There are two versions of the Paris myth. In one, Apollo is the one that guides the arrow to kill Achilles. In the second, Apollo disguises himself as Paris and kills Achilles.

Eros and Apollo

Eros was a very mischievous god and liked to cause all sorts of trouble. One day he saw Apollo practicing archery and decided to challenge him to an archery contest. Apollo laughed and said that a child like Eros could never beat him. This upset Eros, who shot Apollo with one of his golden arrow to make him fall in love with a beautiful nymph named Daphne.

But Eros shot Daphne with a lead arrow making her feel hatred for Apollo. Apollo ran after her and she ran away. Daphne was frightened so she called to her father, Peneus, and he transformed her into a Laurel tree. As she turned into a tree, Apollo embraces her. Apollo, saddened by her running away from him, took some of the leaves and made a laurel wreath so that she would always be close to him.

There is a version of this myth saying that Apollo caused this trouble with Eros. It says that he saw Eros playing with his bow, and he insulted him, telling him to "play with his own little bows and arrows" because he had slain a mighty serpent with his bow. Eros was offended, and decided to play a trick on him, and that is why he caused the trouble with Daphne.

Music Contest

There was once a Satyr named Marsyas. He was a wonderful player of the double flute, an instrument he found abandoned by Athena, and all the forests came to listen to him play the flute. One day Marsyas said that he was a better musician that the god of music himself, Apollo. This angered Apollo and so Apollo challenged Marsyas to a music competition. The winner could do anything they want to the loser. Marsyas played his pipes and he was wonderful but when Apollo played the lyre, he far was better. So Apollo won and because Marsyas had dared to even say that he was even close to being as good at him, he skinned him alive and hung him from a tree. In a second version, the first round was a draw, and Apollo said that the winner would be the man who could play his instrument upside down.

In another version, he says that the winner would be the one who could sing and play all at once. Either way, Marsyas lost. In a third version, the first round was judged by King Minos, a friend of Marsyas, who said that Marsyas was better than Apollo. In a fit of rage, the god gave him donkey ears for daring to say that his music wasn't as good as a mere satyr's. Either way, Marsyas was flayed alive and his skin was hung on an olive tree. There was a version of this myth where it was Pan who challenged Apollo, not Marsyas. He played the panpipes, which couldn't be played upside down or while singing either.

Niobe's Tragedy

Niobe was a mortal woman, the queen of Thebes and wife of Amphion, who once boasted that she was better than Leto as she had fourteen children while Leto only had two. Unfortunately, Niobe's claims had enraged the twin gods themselves, Apollo and Artemis, who were extremely protective of their mother and her honor and the two descended to Earth to punish Niobe.

The very next day, Niobe's sons were killed by Apollo and her daughters were killed by Artemis, though in some myths, the twins spared one of the innocent children, usually being Meliboea, the youngest of Niobe's children. It is said that she was so horrified by the deaths of her siblings that her skin turned a sickly shade of white for the rest of her life.

Devastated by the death of her children, Niobe fled to Mount Sipylus where she wept for days without stopping. Zeus eventually took pity on the devastated mother and turned her to stone in order to spare her of any more agony. However, Niobe's stone body continued to weep and it is said that her endless tears formed the river, Achelous. The bodies of Niobe's children were left unburied for nine days as Zeus had also turn everyone in the city to stone. On the tenth day, the Gods finally took pity and entombed the children's bodies themselves.

The Erymanthian Boar

Once, a son of Apollo, Erymanthos, saw the goddess of love and beauty Aphrodite making love with Adonis, and Aphrodite was so outraged she blinded the poor demigod. When Apollo heard this, he created the Erymanthian Boar and ordered it to kill Adonis, one of Aphrodite's favorite mortals. For Heracles fourth labor, he was to capture the mighty beast and bring it to Eurystheus alive. He did so by luring the Boar into thick snow, then snaring it in a net while it struggled to free him. Erymanthos died later on in his life after he got married.

Personality

Apollo was wise and level-headed but like his father Zeus, was very quick to anger, especially when anyone disrespected him or his family. Apollo also valued family as when Poseidon challenged him during the Trojan War he refused to fight him because they were family though he did, through his heroes, fight Athena in the Trojan War. Apollo is also highly protective of his family, especially his twin sister Artemis, to the point where he feared that the feelings between Artemis and Orion are romantic, and, disapproving of that, tricked Artemis into killing Orion by betting that she could hit a dark spot in the sea with her arrow, not knowing that the dark spot was actually Orion himself.

Apollo, like many of the gods, is quite vindictive and competitive. He does not tolerate any insult from mortals and other lesser gods. When Niobe, Queen of Thebes, insulted Leto by claiming to be better than her, as she had fourteen children to Leto's two, Leto summoned her twins and asked them to avenge her. Apollo and Artemis answered by shooting Niobe's sons and daughters dead. Another was when Apollo turned King Midas' ears into the ears of an ass when Midas had the audacity to proclaim that Pan's musical skill is better than Apollo's.

Also, like his father, Apollo was known to fall in love with mortals both men and women. Although any mortal that becomes his lover dies or becomes cursed either by outside forces or, rarely, by Apollo himself. Nevertheless, Apollo deeply cared for and love his consorts. Example was when he wept and was distraught over the death of Hyacinthus. He then turned Hyacinthus into a beautiful flower before he died. Afterwards, he went to Dionysus's bar along with Hermes to drown his sorrows. Another was when he was serving King Admetus for a year as a mortal. He doted so much on the king it embarrassed the other Olympians, and when time came for Admetus to marry, Apollo helped him by giving him a chariot.

Power and Abilities

As the god of music, Apollo presides over all music, songs, dance and poetry. He is the inventor of string-music, and the frequent companion of the Muses, functioning as their chorus leader in celebrations. Being such a revered god, Apollo is one of the most powerful deities in the Greek pantheon, being more than capable of slaying some of the greatest giants during the Gigantomachy and also put the dreaded and relentless Furies to sleep with a simple spell.

Both medicine and healing are associated with Apollo and were thought to sometimes be mediated through his son, Asclepius. However, Apollo could also bring ill-health and deadly plague.

He is famous for his oracle at Delphi. People traveled to it from all over the Greek world to divine the future. Apollo also became associated with dominion over colonists, and as the patron defender of herds and flocks. He was the leader of the Muses (also known as Apollon Musegetes) and was director of their choir, functioning as the patron god of music and poetry.

Trivia

  • At the drinking parties held on Olympus, Apollo accompanied the Muses on his cithara, while the young goddesses led the dance. Both Leto and Zeus were proud of their son, who was radiant with grace and beauty.
  • Apollo's throne was made of highly polished gold. There was a sun-disk above it with twenty-one rays made of arrows. There were magical sayings on the back and sides. He sat on a cushion of python skin.
  • The nine Muses were companions of his; they were goddesses known for inspiring art and music.
  • Apollo is the father of the musician Orpheus.
  • Apollo taught men the art of medicine, so he is often referred to as “The Healer.”
  • Because of his truthfulness and integrity, he was granted the gift of prophecy and oracles.
  • Apollo defended the oracle at Delphi against Heracles, who was angry at the priestess for having denied him a prophecy.
  • Apollo killed a serpent named Python as a result of a contest; it was conquered by a single arrow.

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